A Commentary by John Stott

1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.  (iii)…with deep conviction.

I omit for the moment Paul’s reference to the Holy Spirit, which comes next in verse 5, in order to bring together the words ‘power’ and ‘conviction’. ‘Power’ describes the objective result of the preaching, ‘conviction’ the subjective state of the preacher. Paul’s preaching was not only powerful in its effect but confident in its presentation. He was sure of his message, of its truth and its relevance, and in consequence was bold in proclaiming it. Yet this confidence and this  courage are precisely what many modern preachers seem to lack.

(1v)…with the Holy Spirit

I deliberately take this expression last because it seems to me to belong to all the other three. That is to say, the truth of the Word, the conviction with which we speak it, and the power of its impact on others all come from the Holy Spirit. It is he who illumines our minds, so that we formulate our message with integrity and clarity. It is he whose inward witness assures us of its truth, so that we preach it with conviction. And it is he who carries it home with power, so that the hearers respond to it in penitence, faith and obedience. As the 1974 Lausanne Covenant put it, ‘without his witness ours is futile’.

Here then are three characteristics of all authentic preaching (truth, conviction and power), all three springing from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul then adds *You know how we lived among you for your sake*. He was not making claims which could not be substantiated. His and his companions’ ministry was exercised in public and was witnessed. The Thessalonians remembered it well. God grant that our evangelism may also be so evidently characterized by truth, assurance and power, that like Paul we may be able to appeal to others to testify to it.


The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.